After winning the 125 cc world title the previous year, exceptional young italian talent Valentino Rossi moved up to the 250 cc class for 1998. Riding an Aprilia factory bike he won 5 races in his first year. His series of successes continued in 1999, too. The start of the new season was somehow marred by technical trouble and slow race starts so podium places were out of reach. But the 3rd race, which took place at the circuit of Jerez, Spain, brought his first victory of the season. Eight more followed and so, already at the penultimate round in Rio de Janeiro, 19-year-old Rossi became the youngest world champion of all times in the 250 cc class. Aprilia totalled 338 points and won the 1999 manufacturers` championship. During the 1999 season “Valentinik” – as Rossi now nick-named himself after a comic strip hero – raced bikes in different liveries. Apart form the standard factory outfit used in most races, his bike sported a 1970`s style “pop-art” design with neon-green flowers at Mugello. At Imola the Aprilia was painted in the italian national colours.